The five best things to cook in an Instant Pot

Instant Pot Duo Nova
(Image credit: Instant Pot)

Instant Pot is the appliance that’s been revolutionizing the way we cook since 2010. But this clever multi-cooker is so versatile, that for some people knowing where to start and how to make the best use of it can be a little overwhelming.

With slow cook, pressure cook, sauté and steam functions to experiment with, there are plenty of great ways to get the most out of this countertop cooking appliance. One of the great advantages of Instant Pot is that there are thousands of recipes online and virtually no limit to the things you can cook in it. And once you’ve mastered your Instant Pot cooking skills it’s still great to experiment with new foods and recipes so you don’t fall into a rut and use it for the same foods and meals every time.

Don’t let your Instant Pot gather dust on the counter – or miss out on the excellent Black Friday Instant Pot deals that are live now. There are numerous meals traditionally cooked on the stove that work much better in an Instant Pot and some might even surprise you.

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Read on to discover what are the best things to cook in an Instant Pot to cook, or if you’ve already decided you want to invest in a multi-cooker, check out the best prices right now:    

What are the best things to cook in an Instant Pot?

 Soups, stews and curries

Sumptuous slow cooked stews, such as this beef stew, are the perfect winter warmer and the slow cooker function on your Instant Pot is a great way of creating this type of comforting meal. The same goes for curries and although these can be pressure cooked if you’re in a hurry, slow cooking allows the flavors to develop and deepen over time, giving you a rich and delicious meal – try this slow cooker chicken curry.

Just be sure to leave the steam release valve in the vented position to allow meals to thicken when slow cooking. Soups can be pressure cooked for speedy results, you’ll have a hearty broth in no time – try this healthy lentil soup

Red meat

The beauty of cooking red meat in an Instant Pot is that no matter how tough or inexpensive the cut, you can use your multicooker to turn it into mouth-wateringly soft meat that’ll fall apart before your fork even touches it. This is achieved by cooking it quickly on the pressure cook setting, or very slowly using the slow cooker. 

Both methods will give you very tender meats with minimal effort. We’re big fans of this slow-cooked beef chili that we make when reviewing multicookers. Personally, I’ve also had great success pressure cooking baby back ribs that then get finished off on the BBQ or broiled/ grilled, here’s a great recipe. You can even try a pressure-cooked pot roast for a fuss-free beef dinner. 


This one’s from experience, I made cheesecake in an Instant Pot and I’ll never go back to my usual method. Forget the usual hassle of baking cheesecake in a water bath in the oven and fretting over whether it’s getting too brown, or if it has the perfect wobble that signifies it’s time to take it out. 

Cooking cheesecake in a pressure cooker removes these concerns, gives you a defined cooking time and also means you can walk away and forget about it until the timer goes off, what could be better? I’d recommend this chocolate cheesecake or this vanilla cheesecake which is the perfect base for adding fruits, caramel or any other custom topping – you can get creative.

Rice dishes

We always cook rice in Instant Pots when testing them for our reviews. Some Instant Pots have a specific rice program, but if yours doesn’t, you can achieve excellent results using the pressure cook function. Instant Pot offers a handy cooking time table for rice and grains. A good rule of thumb is to use a 1:1 rice to water ratio. 

Cooking times vary depending on the type of rice and it might take you a few tries to get the timings just right for your favorite rice. But once you master it, you’ll have perfectly cooked rice every time and that’s the beauty of rice in an Instant Pot – consistency. But it’s not just plain rice, rice dishes like this Instant Pot chicken and rice work really well too and rice based one pot meals are a mid-week winner. 

Potatoes and vegetables

Pressure cooking potatoes in an Instant Pot is great route to perfectly cooked potatoes without having to watch over them on the stove. In fact I made mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot and it was far easier than usual

Instant Pot does offer a cooking time table for steaming vegetables though in our experience the results can be a bit hit and miss the first few times you try it and will depend on the Instant Pot model you have as well as other factors like how much veg you’re loading in. 

If in doubt, steam or pressure cook for the minimum possible time, you can always add on more time, but you can’t rescue overcooked and mushy vegetables. We’d suggest buying a steaming accessory because steaming on the supplied rack is tricky. 

Once you’ve tried a few vegetables and got the hang of timings, steaming is a great way to cook vegetables, locking in the flavor whilst retaining a good crunch.

Helen McCue
Freelance Contributor

Helen is a freelance writer who specializes in kitchen appliances and has written for some of the biggest home-related titles around. She has been reviewing small appliances, including blenders, juicers, and multi-cookers, for more than 8 years,  and also upholsters furniture when she's not testing the latest food tech gadgets.